If you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes and you find yourself saying “I hate having diabetes and all that it involves” you are normal, sane and emotionally healthy! I’ve never heard of anyone responding to their diagnosis of diabetes with a “yippee”!
Diabetes is a complex health concern that involves more than “go home and take this pill.” It will add to your daily “to-do” list. But, it will not necessarily stop you from living life providing you decide to manage your diabetes opposed to allowing your diabetes to manage you. You have the option to live with your head in the sand, try to ignore your diabetes, pretend it doesn’t really exist and continue to live a reckless lifestyle which will eventually create the perfect storm of possible stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, amputations and/or losing your eyesight with the back drop of low energy, mood swings, neuropathy, and hypoglycemia on occasion.
I have pondered over 30+ years of counseling patients with diabetes, why do some jump on the bandwagon of managing their diabetes and others follow a reckless abandon philosophy. I believe this fork in the road of “manage my diabetes OR my diabetes manages me” is greatly influenced by whether you have accepted the diagnosis or not. Accepting the diagnosis does not mean “yeah, I love having diabetes, watching my carb intake, poking my finger multiple times a day, taking pills and/or insulin, frequent doctor appointments and spending lots of money on diabetes.” Accepting the diagnosis means being realistic, acknowledging you are not a fan of all it involves but you are a fan of having energy, avoiding complications, feeling empowered and not feeling angry or this just isn’t fair. Refusal to accept the diagnosis generally stems from some degree of “I hate diabetes” so if I refuse to embrace the tools to management my diabetes I can pretend I don’t really have diabetes. I can choose excessive carbs too frequently, skip checking my blood glucose or taking my medication on occasion, justify avoiding exercise for a million random reasons, pay no attention to portions, maintain my overweight status and it seems easier to pretend I don’t have diabetes.
Living with diabetes is a major life adjustment and requires a great deal of support along with education for you and your family. The first line of treatment is for your physician to refer you to a dietitian and/or CDE (certified diabetes educator) who is experienced with diabetes management. You must request this if your physician happens to forget. There is a huge emotional toll that comes with this diagnosis because it is for the rest of your life. Negative thoughts must be tamed. Negative thoughts, feelings and actions will further increase stress hormone production which will increase blood sugar and blood pressure. Pay attention to what causes you stress and look for ways to counter this. It requires educational and emotional empowerment to be able to identity the positive aspects of diabetes management you can focus on and accomplish.
You will experience set-backs in diabetes care. The key is to evaluate your situation and go at it again with a different approach. “Rethink it” — bring your thoughts back to the here and now. Focus on what you can do today. Aim for progress not perfection.